Friday, March 18, 2011

It's Not A Big Request, Really...

For the past few weeks, I have been curious about the two Google operating systems, Android and the Chrome OS. For the task of repuposing old computers, both seemed to hold much promise.
Of course, that was only on the outside. After playing with Android on my ThinkPad T23, I am no longer sure. It really does seem to be tailored for mobile devices only, not computers. It had a hard time with most basic tasks that would be handled on a regular computer. Most of the applications designed for it are meant really network centered. In fact, the entire operating system seems to lean that way.
Sadly, it seems that Chrome is also designed around doing everything on the Internet. Without a connection, as one commentor wrote, you essentially have a brick.
But the interface on both seems so lovely. Android, especially, is lightweight and somewhat nimble. Its complete lack of support for older hardware, however, is problematic.
This brings us full circle back to a more regular Linux with a windows manager.
Which is sad.
Not because most of these window managers are bad, not at all. What's sad is the fact that what the novice computer user needs is a simple, easy to understand interface. Android and Chrome have that. The ones that have that in Linux tend towards top heavy in requirements.
Years ago, there was a GUI known as PC GEOS. This was a derivative of the original 8-bit GEOS that was released in the late 1980's for the Apple II and Commodore 64 series of computers. Unlike its 8-bit roots, PC GEOS was very advanced and modern and boasted some amazing features. One of those features was a scaled interface. The user selected the level of interface they desired, from beginner to advanced. This made for a great way to advance at a pace that the user was comfortable with.
That's what we need now.
And it needs to be lightweight if this is to work.

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